You sow into their life so they can reap a harvest. The fruit of their life is your reward. — Mark Batterson
I’m online every single day partly because I love it and partly because I teach it. After all, if my job is coaching women how to build businesses in the online space, I probably should be online more than the average bear, right? I’m always trying to stay one step ahead of the algorithm, understand what’s working best on each social platform, and that’s a full-time job.
But honestly, I’m also online because I feel a deep conviction to use the platform God has given me to teach, inspire, encourage, and motivate others. God’s given me a lot of followers, and I don’t take that responsibility lightly. I have a deep personal belief that I am to share my gifts with the world while I am here with this one life opportunity!
But I can remember feeling the same way when I had a fraction of the audience I do today. This thinking that if God gave me the honor of having an audience of any size, I had better do right by them. And by Him.
In a similar fashion, I can remember my best friend Rachel telling me that she knew I took my job of parenting very seriously. At that time, my only followers were my children, and they were following me into the bathroom on the daily. Is it not even possible to poop in peace?
But Rachel was right. I do feel like God entrusted these little humans into my hands for just a moment in time. And that one day in Heaven, I will answer for how I raised the four gifts He trusted me to raise here on earth.
That feels big to me.
And my audience online, that feels big to me too.
Maybe it’s my personality type (hello, fellow Enneagram 3s) or maybe it’s evidence of my being an SRP, but making a difference in the lives of others is ridiculously important to me. And for all you young’uns, I can tell you this really ramped up after I turned forty. Something weird happens in a woman when she changes decades, and turning forty was my biggest shift yet. Realizing that I was halfway done with life was sobering.
And I am completely confident that I don’t have to change the world, but I am responsible for holding down my corner of it and influencing the people God puts me in front of.
I think God expects every gift that He gives us to be stewarded well. As 1 Peter 4:10 says,
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
There is a whole world out there needing God’s grace in the form in which you express it. Maybe it isn’t writing a book or putting on a conference, but what has God entrusted to you? Can you sing? Can you serve? Can you sew? Can you teach? Can you paint? Can you listen? What gifts has He given you that He expects you to use?
To whom much has been given, much will be required — says Luke 12:48 NRSV
That means God is saying, “Hey, girl, I’ve given you all sorts of blessings on this side of Heaven, and although I want you to enjoy them for yourself, I also expect you to do something with them for others.” #micdrop.
Paraphrased further, I think we could add a PS from God: “So I need you to get unstuck and work through your fear, girl, so your gifts can be a blessing to other people too.”
Maybe God has called me to public things that terrify me because the gifts He gave me will help you, a person I’ve probably never met in person, change your life and your business, and the only way to do that is to put myself out there where you will find me. By watching me in real time do things that I am scared to do, God can convict you to do the things you are scared to do as well.
And to convince you, I have a story, and it involves the rapper Eminem, ’cuz God loves Eminem too. LOL.
A little over a year ago, I went out for a “wog” (this is what I have nicknamed a walk/jog that happens when you’re over forty and you still want to be a runner, but your knees hurt).
So I was wogging along, listening to Eminem because he makes me wog faster, when I had a strong feeling that I was supposed to turn off the music and think. So I did.
I thought about how I had just returned from another business conference, and there was so much talk about “manifesting,” and people “tapping,” and using crystals, and all sorts of things that for me as a Christian had my Spidey senses way up.
Then I thought about another conference I attended recently where there were seven hundred women ready to make a change in their lives, and I could see they were captivated by the speaker’s every word. They were all pumped up for change, and I was so hopeful that the speaker would introduce them to Jesus, because she was open about her Christian faith. But she didn’t, and the moment was lost. And those women went home without the ONE THING that would change their lives more than anything else.
And it saddened me deeply because I know in my knower that unless a woman’s mind and heart are changed, her business never will change. There are tons of personal development and business conferences giving out great strategy, but also giving credit to “the universe” (not God) and practicing New Age meditation. It’s heartbreaking. Not to mention dangerous.
So one day shortly after one of those conferences, I was wogging and thinking, “Gosh, I wish there was a business conference that combined Christian beliefs with business strategy. Because that is a conference I would sign up for.”
And then I heard that still, small voice: “Tag, girl. You’re it.”
Listen, I quit wogging right then and there, because on the inside I freaked out. I hate public speaking. This is no secret. I love being part of conversations onstage. I love being on panels onstage. I love being interviewed onstage. But I don’t like to speak with a 1995-style slideshow and microphone. Yuck.
But here was God telling me that He wanted me to have a conference.
I remembered my freshman year of college, when I decided to take the required speech class in the first semester of school just to get it out of the way. If I didn’t, I knew I would be in the fetal position just thinking about that speech class until I graduated. And that kind of anxiety isn’t worth it.
So I took speech class as a freshman and convinced myself that I would “never ever ever ever ever ever ever never ever have to speak in public again.”
Famous last words.
For several years before the wogging conversation, the Lord had been having me speak at different churches and business events, and really stretching me outside my comfort zone. But hosting a conference was a whole new type of crazy. And I was not happy about it.
But I made the mistake of telling my project manager and my husband, and suddenly I found myself in meetings pondering questions like, “Well, if we were going to have a conference — I mean, I know we’re not, but if we were — what season of the year would we have it in?”
And this is how I basically got tricked into having our first Equipped conference. It’s all Jenna and Jason’s fault.
God stretched me sooooo far out of my comfort zone, and eternity was changed forever for those twelve women. And so when I say that you’ve got to get unstuck, hear the Lord, and walk in obedience to the things God is asking you to do despite your fears, it’s because other people’s very lives may depend on it.
You may not need to speak to hundreds of people. God’s plan for you to change the world may only involve reaching out to a neighbor, a friend, or your sister. I love the saying from Paul Shane Spear: “As one person I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person.”
God determined your talents while you were still in utero, and I don’t believe He chose what would make you uniquely you simply so that you can impress people or earn a ton of money.
No, friend, He gave you gifts so that you can help set people free.
Your life affects everyone around you. Even your kids’ teachers. Even the dressing room attendant at Target. Even those watching you on social media.
If you are on social media, you are absolutely an influencer. Twenty years ago, if you did something like a marathon or went back to school or started a business, the only people who knew about it were the people in your immediate circle or those that you told on a wall phone with a cord. Well, and the people that your momma or your grandmother told.
But today, someone is always watching you, whether in real life or on the social life.
Every one of us has influence. Whether it’s online like myself or with other moms in the carpool line. It may be the teenagers at church, your neighbor across the street, or your brother who’s in the middle of a divorce — all these people are touched by your life and your story. You don’t have to go viral and have a huge platform in order to be an example.
Even if you’re not on social media, you still have influence on all those around you. You have neighbors. You have extended family. You have friends and acquaintances. There may be people you talk to every day, or maybe not. Maybe they just watch you live your life. They see you making decisions and doing things, and they can tell that you’re fighting for freedom in certain areas of your life, and without you preaching a thing, they are getting a lesson in courage. And.this.is.influence.
St. Francis of Assisi is reported to have famously said, “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”
Now listen, I know I need to be careful about making you feel pressured to perform for the applause of people. But really, this isn’t about that. Instead, it’s a belief that when we said yes to God, we also said yes to however He wants to use us. And He will always use us to encourage others in their struggles and their lives.
When we said yes to God, we gave up our right to demand things look a certain way. The Lord’s Prayer says, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” It makes no mention of, “Thy Will be done, but only if I am in agreement, and only if I am comfortable and safe.”
And you may or may not see the fruit of your labor on this side of Heaven. You may never know how something you said to a stranger affected them to their core. You may never know if your efforts and conversations are actually changing anything. But we don’t do it for that. It’s not about the applause, and people are not projects.
My friend, your effort and your success is like a breath of air to someone in your influence who is suffocating. Your powering through and doing it afraid is resuscitating someone who is “code blue” in their own life right now.
Will you do the hard things that scare you in order to help get them what they need?
You do have an audience — even if it’s just your neighbor — who needs you to get unstuck and do it afraid and live free so that she has the courage to do the same. She needs you to conquer your own demons and then leave the ladder down for her. She’s coming up right behind you.
Give her a good example, friend. The world desperately needs you.
Excerpted with permission from Fear Is Not the Boss of You by Jennifer Allwood, copyright Jennifer Allwood.
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What scary thing is Jesus calling you to do? Are you listening? Let’s give the people we influence something to reach for! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear about what scares you (that you should totally do)! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full